It is unclear whether Trump is unaware of the CDC's Immunization Safety Office and the Vaccine Safety Datalink or simply doing an end run around them because he can't exert any direct control over them. In any event, Trump is feeding his own anti-vaxx proclivities at the U.S. taxpayers' expense. Ultimately it is doubtful that anything meaningful will emerge from such a committee but that doesn't mean that RFK, Jr. can't cause a lot of trouble, not to mention the new life which will be breathed into the anti-vaxx movement. How long before Andrew Wakefield is announced as a co-chair or committee member?
RFK, Jr. admits in an interview with ScienceMag that he has no expertise in science and will place "science people and prominent Americans".
How many people will be on the commission?
A dozen people -- a mix between science people and prominent Americans.
Who will you ask to serve?
I couldn’t tell you. I just finished meeting with the President-elect an hour ago.
When you say “science people,” do you mean experts from the scientific establishment?
Do you mean prominent vaccinologists who believe in the safety and efficacy of today’s vaccines?
We are going to look for people who have expertise in toxicology, epidemiology and in public health.
Do you have scientific training?
No. My background is I’m an environmental lawyer. I’m not a scientist. But I have an expertise, I would say in reading science and spotting junk science because that’s what I do with most of my time.
Translation: He is going to look for people who might know a little bit more on the subject of vaccinology who are just as anti-vaccine as he is to launch a performance art showing. Somehow I suspect that RFK, Jr. and his future committee members aren't exactly qualified to evaluate the science coming out of the CDC. If it wasn't for the momentary pain in the arse RFK, Jr. and his little band of anti-vaxx warriors will cause for hard-working ethical people, it would be rather entertaining.
I am going to choose to look at the bright side of this which is another Trump rock will be turned over and we will get to see who crawls out. Just as foisting Breitbart into the spotlight emboldened racists and let us see who they really are, this committee will undoubtedly have the same effect by emboldening anti-vaxx politicians and others who have cravenly kept to the shadows on the subject. We will get to see who they are and may they have the same backlash inflicted upon them as the racist, bigoted Breitbart fake news site has.
Had organisations such as the Centers for Disease Control, the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics been more proactive and damning of anti-vaxx quack physicians and activities, perhaps the creation of a committee such as this would have been more politically unsavoury. It's time for these organisations, physicians and scientists to step up and push back against pseudo-scientific claims and those who make them and stop relying upon lightning-rods like Dr. Offit to be the only one doing their dirty work for them.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Andrew Wakefield, Dr. Bob Sears and all their other associates are inexpert has-beens and wannbes but that doesn't mean their activities haven't done substantial damage to public health and public trust in our healthcare agencies. It's time for all of us who are interested in public health and the well-being of our children to send a clear, organised message to these anti-science predators that their meddling in affairs that are way over their heads will not be tolerated.